There is an old British adage, “You’ve lost the plot.” What this saying means is that someone is missing the bigger picture. Similar to not being able to “see the forest from the trees.” In two cases here in America, we have definitely lost the plot.
Recent stories have surfaced where professional sports teams, mostly in the NFL, have taken payments for patriotic-type recognition at their games. Things like unfurling large flags for the national anthem, to on field promotions such as a coin toss or an enlistment ceremony, these pro teams felt it was okay to take a check from various military branches for these types of events. Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake launched an investigation into this practice in an attempt to evaluate how much government money was being funneled to the leagues for what is now being called “Paid Patriotism.” Turns out over $9 million was paid last year by arms of the military to professional teams in exchange for these events.
The question I have is this….. At what point did we look at our military branches as a source of revenue rather than a source of freedom? If it were not for the dedicated service of our armed forces, we wouldn’t be playing football on Sundays, or any other sport on any other day for that matter. Charging the military for something that we should gratefully be providing to them for free is not only greedy, its disrespectful to those that have served. These teams have lost the plot.
In another curious showing of “patriotism” (or lack thereof), there is an expanding practice of fans embellishing the ending of our national anthem. These singing “traditions” often involve the fans changing the end of the anthem to “home of the (insert team name here)”. The Fighting Sioux have done it. Alabama has done it. LSU has done it. The Colorado Avalanche has done it. I’m sure there are more. In every case, these people have also lost the plot.
The national anthem is about our nation. All of us. Not just the Sioux, the Tide, the Tigers, or anyone else. Changing the ending of our song is not some fan base’s call. It’s not about your team or you as an individual. The anthem is ours. Leave it alone, and show some respect for your fellow Americans, many of who have served our country so we can enjoy our freedom – and our sports each and every day.
In a perfect world, all the teams that took military dollars for marketing purposes would donate those funds to military families in need. And those that don’t sing “home of the brave” at the end of our national anthem would be flogged (or at least removed from the venue). We owe it to those who have served to shine a light on them, and to hold them up as an example of what true patriotism stands for. Not to disregard their efforts and treat them as a revenue stream. As Americans we have to flip the script and honor our county and our soldiers. If we don’t find the plot soon, what’s next? Charging retired soldiers to march in Veterans’ Day parades?